Braskem to inaugurate sugar-to-ethylene plant on Friday

23 September 2010 23:34  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Brazilian chemical producer Braskem plans to inaugurate its sugar-to-ethylene plant on Friday, providing the feedstock for renewable polyethylene (PE), the company said on Thursday.

The 200,000 tonne/year plant will be in the Triunfo Petrochemical Complex in Rio Grande do Sul, the company said.

Existing plants at the complex will use the sugar-based ethylene to produce PE, according to Braskem.

Braskem has not announced which grades of PE it will produce, according to the firm Polyolefins Consulting.

Most likely, Braskem will produce injection and blow-moulding grades of high-density PE, the consulting firm said.

Already, there are three Hostalen HDPE lines in Triunfo, Polyolefins Consulting said.

More than 80% of the plant’s future production has been committed to clients in Europe, the US and Asia, Braskem said.

Customers have agreed to pay a premium as high as 66% for the renewable PE, according to chief executive Bernardo Gradin.

In spite of the premium, demand has held up because Braskem's PE is competing against other renewable polymers and not cheaper petroleum-based resins, the company said.

In fact, Brazil expects demand for green PE to exceed 600,000 tonnes/year.

Braskem sources said the company plans to build a second PE unit with a capacity of around 350,000 tonnes/year.

Additional reporting by George Martin

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By: Al Greenwood
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